Best Bar None Plymouth to "mystery shop" bars three times this year to prove standards are robust
PUBS and clubs throughout the city are now being assessed for this year's Best Bar None Plymouth accreditation – and it will be even more stringent now a Late Night Levy could be imposed on businesses.
The process of checking each potential member has started with independent assessor Cat MacDonald in charge of taking bar bosses through the steps needed to qualify.
BBN, the body which looks to ensure high standards are maintained in the city's evening and night time economy (ENTE), will then "mystery shop" applicants once they have been assessed, to prove they are still up to scratch.
And this year they will do this three times – instead of just once – because membership of BBN may result in a 30 per cent fee reduction if Plymouth decides to impose a levy.
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Following the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act becoming law last year, Plymouth City Council can, but does not have to, introduce an Early Morning Restriction Order and/or a late-night levy on bars opening between midnight and 6am.
It has been consulting on this but no decision has been made.
"We have to show we are a robust scheme," said BBN chairman Mick McDonnell. "So they can expect a visit every three months once Cat has done the initial assessment."
Mr McDonnell said bars would be visited at key times, such as Christmas, bank holidays and during the autumn Freshers Fairs.And BBN will back this up with its own test purchasing scheme too, he said.
"We'll send young people into venues to ensure they operate an age verification policy. They'll all be over 18, but appear to be under 18, so no offence is committed.
"We are using second-year degree students. They will fill out an evaluation form which I'll use to provide feedback to the pub or club."
BBN is looking to increase membership again to more than 70 bars this year, from 2012's 60.
Applicants must pass a rigorous annual assessment, which entitles them to consideration for the popular BBN awards in the autumn.
This year the glitzy event will take place at Millbay's Duke of Cornwall Hotel on October 15.
Instead of mystery shopping award candidates this year, bars will be scored and judged against a list of stringent criteria throughout July and August, with a closing date for entries at the end of next month.
Mrs MacDonald has already assessed more than 20 bars. All BBN members are eligible to enter two awards categories.
Bars wishing to join BBN and be assessed should contact Mrs MacDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org and for information visit the Best Bar None Plymouth Facebook page.